Sir, It seems churlish to point out to Sir Crispin Tickell ( Letters, February 26) that different fossil fuels produce different amounts of CO2 in relation to the energy they produce. Producing oil and gas is not necessarily incompatible with achieving the CO2 output reductions required to cap climate change, since oil and gas are so much more efficient and clean than coal.

They produce much less CO2 per unit of energy generated when they are burnt. The US government’s Energy Information Agency provides a simple guide to the pounds of CO2 emitted per million British thermal units (Btu) of energy for various fuels. Coal emits between 229lbs and 206Ibs, depending on the grade, whereas petrol produces only 157lbs of CO2 per million Btu.

The cleanest fossil fuel is natural gas, which is nearly twice as efficient as coal, producing only 117lbs of CO2 per m Btu of energy. It makes much more sense to leave coal in the ground and produce more natural gas, thereby drastically reducing CO2 output without impacting on available energy supply. Leaving North Sea oil and gas in the ground while continuing to burn coal, as Sir Crispin appears to advocate, is environmental folly as well as economically unwise for the UK.

George Horsington

President, Offshore and Business Development, MMA Offshore Asia, Singapore

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